£35,000 boost for grass roots groups helping tackle NHS post-pandemic backlog

Grants are part of £354,000 package for Dorset from NHS Charities Together

£35,000 boost for grass roots groups helping tackle NHS post-pandemic backlog

DORSET Community Foundation has worked with Dorset County Hospital Charity to award £35,000 in grants to grass roots charities and community groups for projects to boost the county’s health.

The NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Community Partnership grants will support ten grass roots groups who are responding to the impact of the pandemic by providing services to improve the health of their communities by working alongside NHS practitioners or relieving pressure on NHS services.

The grants recognises the vital work voluntary and community groups do to support the work of the NHS and were funded by a proportion of the £150 million raised by NHS Charities Together through its UK-wide Covid-19 Urgent Appeal.

The total package secured for the county was £354,000 with the balance funding strategic two-year grants to Dorset’s new Integrated Care System and three NHS charities –  Dorset County Hospital Charity, Bournemouth and Poole Hospitals Charities and Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust.

Among the recipients of the smaller grants is Access Dorset, which received £4,000 to create an emergency fund for people with physical disabilities or complex additional needs who are discharged from hospital with the risk of becoming homeless.

Dave Thompson, the charity’s development manager, said: “Many people with complex emotional, social and physical support needs are discharged from Bournemouth Hospital after emergency medical treatment into inadequate or unsuitable housing, with little or no support to enable them to recover and reintegrate in their local community. Many live in extreme financial hardship and are at risk or already homeless due to chaotic lifestyles resulting from addiction and/or mental health issues.”

The caseworker will be able to find them somewhere safe to stay and work with housing associations and social workers to find them a long-term solution. “The funding will provide an emergency fund to enable us to organise emergency shelter where required to facilitate the immediate discharge of up to 15 patients who would otherwise be bed blocking,” said Mr Thompson.

Citizens Advice on Portland was awarded £2,000 for a caseworker to help families in one of Dorset’s most deprived areas get better information on benefits they might be entitled to and apply for them. Chief officer Daniel Cadisch said: “By supporting individuals to maximise their income through claiming benefits to which they are entitled, to better manage their finances and to deal with their practical problems, we will have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing and, in doing so, reduce the demand on local NHS services.”

We are very pleased to be partnering with Dorset Community Foundation who provide expertise in local grant-making, to provide this essential funding

Countrymen UK will use a £4,000 grant towards running farming activities for isolated men diagnosed with dementia or Parkinson’s in rural areas of the county. Chief executive Julie Plumley said many older men in rural areas, especially former farmworkers, are at risk of becoming isolated in retirement and caring for them puts a huge strain on their families.

The charity runs three session a week for 40 men to be able to work with animals and carry out farm tasks at its Rylands Farm, near Sherborne. The activities not only give members a sense of belonging and a chance to get back out into the fresh air but also gives some respite for their carers.

Mrs Plumley said: “Countrymen UK harnesses the therapeutic value of farming to engage older men. Our aim is to achieve a renewed sense of belonging in older men, which in turn has a wider impact on health and wellbeing. In practice, this involves purposeful work-related activities, socialisation and a gentle ‘green gym’.”

Dorset Parent and Infant Partnership (DorPIP) has been awarded £4,000 towards the cost of running one-to-one psychotherapy, support groups and infant massage sessions for young families in and around Poole.

Chief executive Vivian Allen said: “Some of our families are in the top 10 per cent most deprived neighbourhoods in the UK for income deprivation affecting children. Low income, poor health, inadequate housing, poor neighbourhoods and domestic violence are all factors that seriously impact the emotional, physical and developmental needs of vulnerable infants born into these circumstances.”

She said parents benefit from the support and become more confident, bond more closely with their children and form friendships. “Statutory services have told us that our service is essential as we are able to spend time with vulnerable families in a climate where midwives, health visitors and social workers do not have as much time to do so.”

Samee in Bournemouth will use a £4,000 grant to provide support for 20 people in its Disabled Entrepreneurs Business Start-up Service. The programme provides training, advice and encouragement for adults with disabilities who want to become self-employed.

COO Wayne Ingrams said the support includes one-to-one support in developing a business idea, confidence-building, finance, marketing, sales and customer service.

“Our project will help to build entrepreneurial skills and increase confidence to raise aspirations so that 20 disabled adults from the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area can respond positively to the shocking effects of Covid-19 and transform their lives,” he said.

In Jolly Good Company has been given £2,000 towards the cost of running Step Outside Blandford, a regular singing group that helps keep members in touch with one another and prevents them becoming isolated. “The majority of our guests in Blandford have been referred to us through the Blandford Group Practice GP surgery, social services and Help and Care, who hold the dementia contract for Dorset,” said staff member Sarah Rampton.

“They are all looking for activities and support for isolated older people who are in some cases struggling to cope with looking after themselves or another person with dementia.”

She said the activities are essential for members. “Our group is almost full of people desperate to get out, have respite, company, support and the joy of singing together,” she said.

Simon Pearson, head of charity for the Dorset County Hospital Charity, which is one of NHS Charities Together’s 240 member charities, said: “We are very pleased to be partnering with Dorset Community Foundation who provide expertise in local grant-making, to provide this essential funding to local organisations on behalf of NHS Charities Together.”

Grant Robson, director at Dorset Community Foundation, said: “Everyone is aware of the huge backlog our NHS has faced since the pandemic and we are delighted that this funding will help some of the amazing groups working so hard in our communities to continue to take the pressure off. Their work prevents many people having to go into acute care, or at least delays it considerably and we are proud that Dorset County Hospital Charity has chosen to work with us to make this happen.”

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